An exclusive video collage of kaleidoscope'd butts that Nate made for us.
The first time I met Nate Kogan he was at a house party wearing a bunny suit that was splattered with fake blood. I'd see Nate around at other parties every now and then but I only knew him as "bunny guy," until one day he moved in next door. I would witness new women coming in and out of his place every day and I assumed he was either a drug dealer or the king of Craigslist personals. I knew they weren't there to see the bunny suit. It turns out that he was actually photographing these women, usually nude, and then turning them into trippy GIFs. Nate man has a real gift for GIF making. While his photos may just seem like naked girls hanging out in a studio doing wacky shit, because that's what they are, his brain is hardwired to make some incredibly sweet looking digital animations that tend to revolve around boobs and butts as his subject matter.
I chatted with Nate about his work, his interest in the lowest common denominator, and shitty freelance clients.
VICE: How would you describe your work?
Nathan Kogan: I call it bubble gum art or Hubba Bubba art. You know how you put a piece in your mouth and it's really good and super sweet for like 9 seconds and then you're like I can't stand this shit and spit it out. But that's what it is. It's meant to be consumed in little bits but the best part about it is you have an entire pack in your pocket so whenever you want one of those you just gotta throw it in your mouth. I look at my stuff as completely disposable. I don't believe in timeless art, I think it's bullshit for the aesthetic I play in (changes all the time). Most people have nine seconds of attention and I want all 9 of them.
How did you get into making GIFs that look like an X-rated Nintendo game on acid?
The short answer is depression, art school, and then finding myself. I'm a child of the internet, I kind of like video but not really, and I love photos. I found the happy medium and they were GIFs. At first it started really simple and then I found my other love, which is psychedelics. There's a clear dividing line in my work from when that happened, and it's kind of raunchy and trippy and you think what's going on here it's crazy why is this chick blowing a hot dog that's made out of rainbows. Well, it’s because of drugs.
Was it awkward or shooting your first nude model?
No, I just met the right people. Art school taught me a couple of things; it taught me that tits and ass hijack eyeballs like no tomorrow. Nudity is less about "Oh look! There's a wicked pair of tits, I love those, I love tits that's great!" and more about like you're seeing tits right now on a 50 foot wall projected and you're going to stop and look at it you can't help it. Everybody loves that shit. It can be anything from a giant dick or ass or whatever the hell it is and it captures someone's attention and that's what I want. I go after the baseline lowest common denominator.
There's nudity, flashiness, dogs, cats all in a GIF form. That's pretty much the internet in a nutshell.
I look at the internet as a huge retrospective. As far as we've known it, it's been what, like 20 years of interaction? Facebook has been around since 2006? That's not that long of a time. Imagine a life without Facebook? For me that's weird. The 90s net was this weird thing for me where I look back at it and put it in a blender with all of my thoughts and throw it back out there. I like to use a lot of weird bad design cues from the time and do some whack stuff with that. I think that's why my stuff is kind of a mix of all that. It's kind of internet and psychedelics and sexuality had a super baby with a sick moustache who liked smoking dope. That's pretty much the basis of it.
There are a lot of artists working other jobs to pay for their craft and bills because their art isn't making any money. How did you finally make this into a full-time freelance career?
That was a big jump. There was a period where I was homeless for two months. Every once in a while I'd stay in a studio, which I didn't want to do too much of. I am actually really in touch with what it's like to be alone. I only really found myself last year with the help of some amazing people who are my life. I knew what I wanted to do and how to pursue it; like the Kingdom (Nate's website) is only a year and a half old so it's kinda new. NOW magazine and She Does the City helped me a lot out with exposure. The Kingdom was really small until they did an interview with me. That really set it off I started getting emails from little brands to do lookbooks and stuff like that.
I also try and treat everyone with respect and assume everyone is intelligent, and dropped pretty much all the drama away from my life. People who will hire you will notice these things and try to attach themselves to you, so I think that's why things have been going well. I love people.
I've heard of photographers feeding models booze and drugs on set to get them loose. Is that your strategy?
I have this one rule and it's on my set there's no alcohol or drugs. I know that's surprising. I had this really bad situation where this girl got really drunk on set, can't mention any names, but she got fucked up and then she got into a physical fight with one of my best friends. Since then I don't allow anyone to drink. Everybody thinks when I do these things I'm fucked up, but that's not the case at all. I'm baseline completely sober when I work. I don't care about anything other than getting the ideas out of my head onto the screen and I can't do that if I'm not sober. Like could you imagine holding a camera on mushrooms? It'd be impossible to keep that sucker from melting! One time I thought I could do these things on acid but then I'd look at my camera and it'd be too confusing. I did have a chat with it though and it specifically explained the specifications of the colour Cyan to me at the time. Thanks Camera!
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